Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Are You the F**cking Doctor by Liam Farrell. It’s quite hard to fit this into any genre at all. It is part biographical and it is also full of anecdotes and witty reflections.
About the Author
Dr Liam Farrell is from Rostrevor, Co Down, Ireland. He was a family doctor in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, for 20 years, and is an award-winning writer and a seasoned broadcaster. He is married to Brid, and has three children Jack, Katie, and Grace.
He was a columnist for the British Medical Journal for 20 years and currently writes for GP, the leading newspaper for general practitioners in the UK. He has also been a columnist for the Lancet, the Journal of General Practice, the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish News. He wrote the entry on ‘Sex’ for The Oxford Companion to the Body.
On Twitter he curates #Irishmed, a weekly tweetchat on all things medical, which has a global following. He also co-curates #WritersWise, a regular tweetchat for writers, with novelist Sharon Thompson.
He was the medical columnist for the BBC Radio Ulster Evening Extra 1996-98; presented the series Health-Check for Ulster TV in 2002, and was medical consultant for both series of Country Practice in 2000 and 2002 for BBC Northern Ireland.
His awards include Columnist of the Year at Irish Medical Media Awards 2003, Periodical Publishers Association of Great Britain 2006 and Medical Journalist’s Society, London 2011, and Advancing Health through Media at the Zenith Global Healthcare Awards 2018.He was shortlisted for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Competition in 2008.
About the book
‘General practice is the great unknown. We stand on the cusp of the beyond. Science takes us only so far, then the maps stop in the grey areas of intuition, imagination and feelings: here be dragons. Lurching from heart-breaking tragedy to high farce, we are the Renaissance men and women of medicine; our art is intangible. Anything can walk through our door…’
Family doctor, Irishman, musician, award-winning author, anarchist and recovering morphine addict, Liam became a columnist for the BMJ in 1994. He went on to write for many major publications, winning a series of prestigious awards; in 2005, he was the first doctor to win Columnist of the Year in the Periodical Publishers Association awards.
The book contains a selection of Liam’s best work, from his columns, blogs and short stories.Brilliantly funny, glittering with literary allusion and darkly wicked humour, this book is much more than a collection of stand-alone anecdotes and whimsical reflections, rather a compelling chronicle of the daily struggles – and personal costs – of a doctor at the coalface.
It’s quite hard to fit this into any genre at all. It is part biographical and it is also full of anecdotes and witty reflections. It’s often brutally honest and reflective in a way only a person who has truly faced their demons can be.
This becomes clear in the first chapter when the author describes his own struggle with addiction. In fact the descriptions are very visceral. Shocking at first when you remember that we aren’t talking about someone sat in a crack den shooting up a potent drug. This is a medical professional giving himself a hit of morphine. It’s a dark and sincere part of the book.
I have to say I walked away from this read wondering what the heck any doctor I have ever had, especially the long-term ones, has ever written in my medical notes. ‘Cheryl saves up her ailments for one ten minute GP appointment’ (absolutely true – sorry) ‘Cheryl thinks she’s a doctor and tells me what the diagnosis is and what meds I should prescribe’ (also very guilty of doing this) ‘Oh no it’s her again’ – I think I need to ask for my medical notes.
I think it’s easy to forget that there is a human being behind the profession. A person with their own set of personal and medical issues. Yes, they are being paid and it is their profession, but that doesn’t mean we should completely blank out the fact there is a person behind the stethoscope.
Imagine having to deal with death on a regular basis, giving people devastating news and having to follow their paths of pain. All of those emotions have to go somewhere, especially if the doctor has to maintain an objective stance and yet still show empathy at the same time.
Farrell writes with a quick tongue, a sharp set of teeth and intelligence. What may be drowned out in the noise of the witty repertoire is the years of care and dedication he has clearly given to others. It’s certainly an interesting piece of work.